The family of Raheel Siddiqui, a Muslim Marine recruit who committed suicide after jumping from the third floor balcony of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in South Carolina earlier this year, has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the federal government, alleging the “negligence on multiple levels of command” prompted their son to take such a drastic step.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, claimed the Marines “fostered a culture of abuse and hazing” at the Parris Island training base. The family's attorney also claimed the “recurrent physical and verbal abuse of recruits by drill instructors, with a noted insufficiency of oversight and supervision” caused the death of 20-year-old son of Pakistani immigrants.
While the Corps have not released a statement as of yet, Siddiqui’s tragic death and the recently filed lawsuit highlight the prevalent culture of hazing and abuse in the military.
According to reports, Siddiqui’s drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix and Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon, the commanding officer who was in charge of Siddiqui's battalion and allegedly ordered another Muslim recruit to enter a dryer before turning it on, are currently facing courts martial.
At least 20 Marine Corps officials may face discipline or criminal charges after three internal investigations into the death of a Pakistani-American recruit’s death discovered multiple incidents of physical and mental abuse at the training camp.
In March, Raheel Siddiqui, a Muslim Marine recruit, jumped to his death from the third floor balcony of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina. As the reports reveal, the 20-year-old son of Pakistani immigrants was hazed and struck by his drill instructor few minutes before he took his own life.
He had been just 11 days into his training.
The probe also found, along with alleged physically violence, a drill sergeant also subjected Siddiqui to mental abuse by referring to him as a “terrorist.”
The Marine Corps has not identified the instructor in question as of yet. However, the researchers found one drill instructor, who might or might not be the same person, was under investigation for previous allegations of assault and hazing.
In addition to that, Siddiqui was not the only abuse victim. As it appears, drill instructors regularly engage in “recurrent physical and verbal abuse of recruits” and their commanders fail to supervise them, according to the Marine Corps statement.
In fact, in some cases, senior colleagues maltreated the instructors themselves.
The investigation results will now go to a hearing, which will decide whether administrative or criminal proceedings go forward, officials claimed.
“We mourn the loss of Recruit Siddiqui and we will take every step necessary to prevent tragic events like this from happening again. When America’s men and women commit to becoming Marines, we make a promise to them. We pledge to train them with firmness, fairness, dignity and compassion,” said Marine Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller in a statement, where he supported and endorsed the initial actions in the case.
“Simply stated, the manner in which we make Marines is as important as the finished product. Recruit training is, and will remain, physically and mentally challenging so that we can produce disciplined, ethical, basically-trained Marines,” he added.
Where Siddiqui’s unfortunate death alarmed Muslim-American and civil rights advocates about racial discrimination at the revered base, it also exposed an extremely disturbing culture of hazing and drew attention towards the widespread misbehavior and abuse in the military.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, James Mackenzie